This year's Royal Show at Stoneleigh Park is to be the last ever, according to RASE.
A statement issued by RASE in the last hour or so to all tenants of the showground states that the trustees of the Society have decided that 2009 will be the last show and the organisation will concentrate on a new programme of events from 2010 onwards that will develop and enhance the reputation of RASE.
According to RASE chief executive Brian Warren the Society is considering a number of options for the future. "But for Royal Show 2009 we will put significant effort into farming content and specifically include special features on the environment, energy and other important rural matters.
"We are working very hard to extract the best and most appropriate elements of the Royal Show - those which may be the foundation for individual technical events, or which could be grafted on to exisiting events," he added in the statement.
In the last few years the Royal Show has been a loss making activity for RASE and it now isn’t the best way to address the Society’s main role of putting science into practice, explained RASE communications director Denis Chamberlain.
“None of us at RASE wanted to see this happen, but we simply couldn’t go on investing in an event when there wasn’t an audience for it.”
And while many may point to the success of the Royal Welsh and Royal Highland Shows as pointers for the RASE to follow, Mr Chamberlain said those shows had their own unique atmosphere which the Royal could never replicate.
“The simple fact is we should have foreseen changes to the sector coming and didn’t. When we started to make changes it was too little too late. Since 2001 it’s been a struggle to make the show work.”
Looking to the future he said that by the time of the gate’s open for the last Royal Show on 7 July this year RASE would have a full plan in place for a series of events in 2010. But he was unable to say whether this plan would include a livestock show, the one element of the Royal Show which has retained support in recent years.
“We are conscious of the fact that a Royal Show championship is still highly sought after and that RASE is custodian of a great deal of history and marketing potential for the livestock breeding sector. But it costs a lot of money to stage a livestock show and we will have to think carefully about what we do in future.”
Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, who’s show many believe may benefit from the Royal’s demise told Farmers Weekly it was a sad day for the agricultural industry. “There is no joy on our part that a major show such as the Royal has decided to close its doors. This will leave a big hole in the show season which can’t be filled.”